Remembering one-of-a-kind local legend Lee Bozier
- Credit: The Bozier Family
The family of much-loved local footballer Lee Bozier has been overwhelmed by a deluge of tributes in the wake of his recent death.
Former St Albans City goalkeeper Lee passed away following a long fight against cancer earlier this month at the age of 52.
His widow Donna and first-born son Sam have shared memories of the popular player as plans get underway for a memorial match in his honour later this year.
Lee's career began with Luton Town FC's youth team, but it wasn't long before he began a semi-pro career as a goalkeeper with the club, going on to play with St Albans, Stevenage, Baldock and Hertford.
He hung up his boots and gloves as a player in 1999 after being diagnosed with an inherited form of colorectal cancer known as Lynch Syndrome. After surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy received the all-clear, after which he was always keen to support anyone diagnosed with cancer and going through treatment.
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When fully recovered, the pull of the game proved irresistible, and he used his knowledge and experience to manage the London Road Youth team which his son Sam played in from Under 7s to Under 18s.
His dedication for the team stemmed from his own football career and he took his role very seriously. He wanted the best for the lads and if the game wasn’t going their way, the half time talk would include the line, “Well it’s not me that’s going to be at school with them tomorrow!”
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He knew how important being part of a football team was: it helped with discipline, gave the lads a purpose, kept them fit, led to lasting friendships and above all would help them to stay on the right path.
He was extremely proud of winning the league unbeaten during his time with London Road and also enjoyed the social aspect of the team, frequently found standing at the bar cracking a joke or having a wind-up after a match.
In the mid-noughties, he became the Youth Club Chairman, where he showed an exceptional ability to promote and organising fund-raising events to raise the vital cash needed to sponsor grass roots football.
Lee kept his lightning quick goalkeeper reflexes, and as best man at a friend's wedding he caught the ring after it went flying through the air, but was the butt of jokes about his "safe hands" if he dropped the ball while playing as a wicket keeper for The Jolly Sailor.
Off the pitch, he was well known as an inherent part of his dad's decorating company, Dennis Bozier Ltd. Although he tried other jobs including the police force, a chef at The Three Horseshoes and as a doorman at Harry Smiths, the pull of the family business was always stronger, and he eventually took over the firm when his dad retired.
He was known across the city, having worked on jobs in many homes, and was always acknowledged by his past customers in the street. His business even saw him working on many churches across the district, including the Cathedral itself, and beyond to the Diocese of Westminster.
A lifetime West Ham fan, he took great pleasure in handing over birthday presents in Hammers bags, especially if the recipient supported another team, and liked to be prepared, leaving a pair of glasses in every room of his house and behind the bar at his favourite pubs: The Jolly Sailor and The Plough in Tyttenhanger.
After marrying his beloved wife Donna and the birth of his second son, Zach, he worked as a coach with St Albans City FC EJA U15s in 2016/17, helping them win the EJA Herts U15 League title and advance to the regional play-offs.
In late April, after more than 10 years of being all-clear, the cancer returned, but this time to the stomach. Despite fighting through his diagnosis with radiotherapy and chemotherapy, and just a few months after his dad lost his own battle with leukaemia, Lee suffered complications which claimed his life.
His wife Donna summed him up: "Lee was one of a kind and will be sorely missed by everyone who knew him."